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The Women Entrepreneurship Development ProjectThe Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP) aims to provide more opportunities for female entrepreneurs. The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is continually funding more than $2 million to women in Ethiopia looking to start or improve their businesses.

The program’s contributions are improving the Ethiopian economy and the empowerment of women. It is one of the only women-focused lines of credit operations in the world and has been the most effective.

Signs of Progress

To date, more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs have received loans from the IDA. Of this, 66 percent are first-time borrowers; yet, 99.1 percent of the loans have been repaid.

Additionally, 16,000 women have participated in business training thus far. On the other hand, firms participating in the WEDP are experiencing growing incomes. In comparison to those not working with the program, income has increased by 40.77 percent. With increasing profit, these firms are able to expand employment by 55.73 percent.

Giving Women Entrepreneurs a Feasible Option

The Women Entrepreneurship Development Project’s success can largely be accredited to having “missing middle” loans. In many instances, banks require a minimum of a $50,000 loan and microfinance options are at most $5,000. These requirements make it nearly impossible for female entrepreneurs to get a loan suitable for their business.

The WEDP provides an average loan of $12,500 and has successfully reduced the collateral from 200 percent to 125 percent. The IDA saw an untapped market and is now profiting off of the potential for these entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

Project Initiatives

Another reason why the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project is succeeding is due to the specific and goal-oriented plan of the World Bank. The objective in Ethiopia is to improve both earnings and employment of female-owned Micro and Small Enterprise’s (MSE).

The most common obstacle businesses face in Ethiopia is access to finance. In fact, only 40.4 percent of these owners have access. As a result, the project focuses on ensuring easy finance options and offering unique financial instruments that fit the needs of each business.

It is also useful that the project offers programs to teach entrepreneurial and technical skills. The World Bank aims for access to microfinance and a dedicated line of credit, development of entrepreneurial skills, technology and cluster development and, project management, advocacy and outreach, monitoring and impact evaluation.

Partnerships and Impacts

Without partnerships with the Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the U.K., Italy and Japan, the success of the WEDP would not be possible. Many countries and agencies have offered financing or other assistance contributing to the rise of female-owned business in Ethiopia.

Not only has the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project been hugely successful in Ethiopia, but it is also inspiring initiatives to finance female-owned companies in countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia. Should these countries follow suit, the impact could be unprecedented.

Even though the project has a few more months until its completion, it is providing an opportunity for the government of Ethiopia to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) of women entrepreneurs.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

Ethical Fashion Brands
Ethical fashion refers to how clothing is made and takes into account the materials that are used but also the treatment of the workers, their salaries and their safety. The movement is growing and shedding light on the unsustainable practices of so-called “fast” fashion – miserable working conditions, unlivable wages, environmental degradation and pollution. Poor men and women must endure these conditions because they do not have a choice. Currently, more and more ethical brands aim to give back to local communities in developing countries. In this article, five ethical brands working to alleviate poverty by empowering women are presented.

Ethical Brands that Empower Women

  1. Krochet Kids puts a face behind the product. Everything they produce is hand-signed by the woman who made it and customers can learn about the stories of these women online. The company provides job opportunities to women in need to help them break the cycle of poverty. It all started as a hobby of high school friends who crocheted their own winter hats and other products. After attending college and spending some time in Uganda, the idea to pass on the skill of crocheting to people emerged. By teaching people the craft they gave them the autonomy to start working and providing for their families. Krochet Kids provides jobs which is a crucial step toward alleviating poverty. They also work with a nonprofit partner Capable, in order to go further and provide services to help their employees in all areas of life. The program includes mentorship, educational and financial services. Capable’s goal is to equip people with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to permanently get out of poverty and create their own business.
  2. ABLE is a lifestyle brand whose mission is to end generational poverty by giving women economic opportunity. The founder, Barrett Ward, had a firsthand experience witnessing how poor young women in Ethiopia had to prostitute to support themselves and he decided to change that. The brand has grown a lot over the years and currently works in countries like Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Nashville. All of the company’s products have something in common- they are made by women and help bring the end of generational poverty closer. To show the true impact of their work, ABLE is committed to radical transparency and publishes the wages of their employees. They also use a platform that measures social impact. By being radically transparent they want to empower consumers to demand change through their choices and invest in women.
  3. Initially starting out as a nonprofit organization in 2008, Raven + Lily now employs over 1,500 women in order to help them break free from the cycle of poverty. Their partners ensure that they pay their employees livable wages. Raven + Lily recognizes that production impacts people and the planet and does not only minimize the waste by using repurposed or recycled materials but aims to empower women on a bigger scale. Every purchase funds microloans given to women entrepreneurs in local communities. Raven + Lily provides women with a safe job, fair wages, health care and tools to empower them to thrive.
  4. Mayamiko is an ethical brand that produces clothes, accessories and homeware ethically made in Malawi. The brand uses and draws inspiration from African techniques and locally printed fabrics. Mayamiko works closely with Mayamiko Trust, a charity that aims to nurture the talents and creativity of those most disadvantaged. They lift people out of poverty by training them in activities that could transfer into a trade. The Mayamiko Trust and the brand work together through the Mayamiko Fashion Lab. The Lab provides education, nutrition and sanitation. Disadvantaged women, many of them being HIV patients or orphans, learn sewing and tailoring and develop business and financial skills. Upon completion of the training, they receive guidance, mentorship and recognized qualifications as well as access to microloans to help them start their own business. The Mayamiko Trust also crafts and provides reusable sanitary kits to women, giving them a safe and hygienic option for their period.
  5. HopeMade is child-labor-free certified brand and committed to high-quality ethically made products. The company started in September 2016 with the goal of producing conscious and ethical fashion and providing employees with dignifying wages and work. The brand uses 100 percent alpaca fiber that is knitted in Peru by local artisans. Their core values are sustainability, fair trade and ethics and they are on a mission to transform the way style is produced, perceived and consumed. The brand is managed from Colombia where indigenous tribes work and earn fair wages.

Empowering women impacts and lifts whole communities out of poverty. When women earn a sustainable income, they reinvest it back into food, health, education, children, their family and the community. Ethical brands help women create their own businesses, provide for their families and escape the cycle of poverty.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr

Global Network of Women Entrepreneurs
Everyone knows the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” that often opens opportunities for the people to succeed.

But for people without notable connections, rising through the ranks can prove rather difficult. Organizations around the world have noticed this cause-and-effect, and they are using it to address the disparity of women-owned businesses around the world.

Around $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality and supporting more women to become entrepreneurs.

Three organizations, in particular, are working to build global networks to expand the potential of women entrepreneurs by connecting them with the right people to succeed.

WeConnect International

The purpose of WeConnect International is to create a global network of women entrepreneurs and help them succeed in global value chains by connecting them with qualified buyers.

Founded in 2009, WeConnect International is premised on the encouragement of equal opportunity for men and women by expanding the reach of leadership networks for women.

This organization trains women on how to sell to corporations and corporations on how to source their products from women business owners, allowing women to develop their businesses and access new markets.

WeConnect International also certifies businesses as Women’s Business Enterprises (WBE) outside of the United States that are verified to be at least 51 percent owned and managed by females.

These companies are connected with an eNetwork of corporate members, training workshops and multinational corporate buyers that allow women-owned businesses to thrive.

There are over 750 certified WBEs and 5,387 self-registered women’s business enterprises.

In addition to expanding networks with corporate business leaders, WeConnect women are building a network among themselves and doing business with each other in over 50 countries.

As trendsetters in inclusive sourcing and global supplier development models of business, corporate members of WEConnect International represent $700 billion in annual purchasing power.

By expanding the women-owned businesses, WeConnect helps in the growth of jobs and equal opportunity environment around the world, adding to global GDP and adding creative perspectives to global business.

APEC Women Connect

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women Connect Program is embracing the digital age to expand women’s potential in entrepreneurship.

In 2016, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) launched this initiative with the goal of building a community through digitalization that can empower women entrepreneurs through sharing, learning and awarding.

APEC Women Connect was pioneered by Diane Wang, an ABAC member of China, and Chair of ABAC Women’s Forum.

She saw the career opportunities and potential for the expansion of e-commerce and globalization for a low cost. This program is now connecting these opportunities with resources in the form of human connections to create a global network of women entrepreneurs.

As its primary resource, the APEC Women Connect has established two groups on Sina Weibo and Facebook to share case studies, seminars and to inspire others.

However, another trailblazing development that this body has organized is the 2018 Global Value Chain-Cross Border e-Trade Workshop.

This workshop hosted 20 participants from 9 countries most of whom were women from small countries.

The focus of the workshop was to show business owners how to utilize the current global supply chain to recognize opportunities for global expansion.

It was understood that while large multinational corporations have dominated global trade, the rise of global supply chains also creates circumstances that allow for small entrepreneurs to specialize.

DHgate.com, also founded by Diane Wang, is the only e-commerce platform dedicated to serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) retailers around the world, lowering the entry barrier for global markets access.

In its steps moving forward, APEC Women Connect is committed to building diversified platforms and networks of cooperation in areas of capacity building, information exchange and best-practice sharing to enhance gender inclusivity and expand the global network of women entrepreneurs.

Women for Women International

Women for Women International assists marginalized women in war-torn countries and conflict zones by creating social and economic empowerment programs.

Classes comprised of up to 25 women are organized to share their experiences, build support networks and learn crucial financial skills that will help them to support their families.

Since 1993, over 478,000 marginalized women have been helped by Women for Women International. Women in this program are among the most marginalized in the world.

After completion of the program, participants can also opt to take further graduate support classes. The graduate support programs help to propel women into the enterprising world with advanced financial and business training.

With these support networks, Women for Women International are expanding the global network of women entrepreneurs from the ground up.

Building women’s networking groups and acknowledging gender issues can heighten awareness, improve working environments on an internal and systematic level and boost confidence among employees.

Professional relationships create opportunities and as the job market for women entrepreneurs expands, it is important to ensure that they have the right people pulling them up to reach their full potential.

 – Sara Andresen
Photo: Flickr

Women Entrepreneurship Opportunities Many governments and companies around the world have come to realize that encouraging the advancement of women is essential to the development of communities as a whole.

Five organizations, in particular, are making huge strides to help women entrepreneurship through financing and training programs.

Kiva

Kiva is a crowdfunded lending organization that gives loans to those who can’t access fair and affordable sources of credit.

As an international nonprofit organization operating in over 80 countries, it provides opportunities for people who are financially excluded from the capital to become farmers, pursue an education, or develop business ventures.

It operates by pooling money from lenders that each pay a small part of the loans to minimize the cost to individual lenders while maximizing its effectiveness by joining resources with others.

Since 2005, Kiva has funded $1.22 billion worth of loans to 3 million lenders. While loans are available to both men and women, 81 percent of Kiva borrowers are women.

In support of Kiva’s values and success, Bank of America and the U.S. Department of State partnered with Kiva in 2017 to support the “Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund” that hopes to support 1 million women entrepreneurs by 2021.

Kula Project

The Kula Project is an organization that works out of Rwanda. It is designed to develop entrepreneurs through vocational fellowship programs.

These programs provide business investment training, tips on creating or improving business plans and industry training in artisan goods, coffee farming and agribusiness.

Another important part of the Kula Project’s resources is its one-on-one mentorships that provide information on financial planning, family health and business leadership.

Both men and women can participate in the Kula Project’s fellowship program, but women are particularly benefitting through the organization’s Women’s Centers that focus on training them to create their own sewing, weaving and agriculture businesses to sell handmade products on the local market.

With a business model that focuses on listening to the needs of the community, Kula Project is working to plant the seeds for future success and allow the community to sustain its own development.

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund

The Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) provides both microcredit loans and vocational training for business and leadership development for women in Uganda.

WGEF aims to create sustainable human development through the use of social capital building programs that aim to alleviate poverty, empower women, strengthen food security and health among families and generate an atmosphere of self-determination.

The Credit Plus program created by WGEF has assisted women in opening restaurants, bakeries, hotels, construction projects and small to medium scale agriculture projects that also increase local food production, giving women entrepreneurs the opportunity to be new leaders in society.

These successes are even more impressive due to the nature of the post-conflict region.

The clients of WGEF have been former abductees, child soldiers and victims of gender-based violence and they have the full support of the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund.

Friendship Bridge

According to the United Nations and Harvard Business Review, when women earn an income, they invest 90 percent of it into their families and communities. In comparison, men invest 35 percent for the same purpose.

With this understanding, Friendship Bridge works with a mission to empower impoverished communities in Guatemala by supporting women entrepreneurs.

Friendship Bridge uses their Microcredit Plus Program, small loans to impoverished women, as a sustainable business model to lift women out of poverty.

The organization relies on a group lending model that they call “Trust Banks” to instill accountability but also to create support through social capital. Today, the organization helps to support as many as 22,000 women.

Friendship Bridge’s Client Continuum strategy believes that the combination of financial capital (credit), human capital (skills) and social capital (networks) accelerate the services they provide to not only become entrepreneurs but leaders as well.

Clients are required to undergo non-formal education sessions to accompany their microloans, with options for further mentorship and advanced training in business practices or technical training.

These educational advancements have helped women open businesses in textiles, the food industry and has given people the opportunity to access education.

As an added bonus to this organization’s great work in alleviating poverty, it is addressing the largest group of immigrants coming to America, assist them in creating livelihoods and make them want to stay.

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, backed by the World Bank, works to address the financial and social constraints that small and medium women-owned enterprises face in developing countries.

This is a widespread collaborative initiative that includes 14 governments, 8 multilateral development banks and both public and private stakeholders.

Starting with $340 million for women entrepreneurs in the first year, the organization is expected to mobilize $1.6 billion in additional investment funds from the public and private sectors and development partners.

These funds will work to provide women with access to debt, equity, venture capital and insurance markets, link women-led small and medium enterprises to supply chains, connect women entrepreneurs with networks and mentorship and improve legal limitations that constrain women-led businesses.

These five organizations and initiatives have proven invaluable in changing the quality of women’s lives, and consequently, transforming the communities in which they live.

Advocacy remains an important part of this change in making sure that people are aware of these ideas and opportunities for change.

– Sara Andresen

Photo: Flickr

 

Social Entrepreneur CorpsFounded by Greg Van Kirk, the Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) diagnoses needs and implements innovations that help marginalized, impoverished and vulnerable families build a better life for themselves.

The volunteers and employees of the SEC play an important role in creating impactful social innovation. They can “gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to become the high impact leaders and social entrepreneurs of the future.” In addition, the SEC has been “leading innovative and dynamic impact immersion programs for 10 years and over 1,000 participants have joined [their] diverse programs.”

The organization utilizes well-structured programs where participants are mentored by field leaders, who are experienced development professionals.

One of the SEC’s initiatives includes a needs and feasibility analysis, in which participants perform research through observations, surveys and informal conversations in order to analyze needs of impoverished communities.

Another is an innovative-design initiative, in which participants use their research to develop and give consultations to local community members on ways to improve their state of poverty.

As one SEC participant states, “from giving presentations in Spanish to local organizations to going on campaigns in rural regions, every activity gave me the chance and the courage to step out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries as far as I could.”

Communities in Latin America, for example, are reaping the benefits. The Jutiapa region in Guatemala had a successful village campaign which benefited women entrepreneurs in the region. In one day, participants “served over 150 people and helped the women to sell 69 pairs of glasses, 35 eye drops, 30 packets of vegetable seeds, 8 solar lamps/cell phone chargers and one water purification bucket.”

The female entrepreneurs earned nearly $240 in net profits, which is the equivalent of over two months’ wages for the average rural Guatemalan.

The Social Entrepreneur Corps has played an important role in breaking the cycle of poverty in Latin American countries. The organization’s efforts continue to inspire families and communities.

Vanessa Awanyo

Women’s_World_Banking
Women’s World Banking raises money to provide women with the resources and tools needed to become successful entrepreneurs in their respective regions.

The organization operates primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but has left footprints in other regions, such as the Middle East and Western Europe.

Women’s World Banking recognizes that although many women globally use their earnings to give back to their families and communities, the demographic continues to be underserved and underrepresented.

Once the group determines the tools needed to empower successful female entrepreneurs, they network with financial institutions to guide women through the business startup process.

Women’s World Banking consists of an executive team, staff members, fellows and a board of directors, all of whom help keep the organization afloat. These individuals have dedicated themselves to the development of innovated products, micro-insurance programs and enterprises.

The team helps women develop credit, savings and insurance programs that fit their needs. Through research and on-the-job experience, the organization also creates innovative methods that they share with hardworking women throughout the world.

This year, roughly 530,000 women have accessed tools and resources provided by Women’s World Banking, with the total participants each year totaling over one million. Eighty-five percent of people participating in their leadership programs each year are young women looking to make a living for themselves and their families.

For more than 35 years, Women’s World Banking has created and networked with more than 38 organizations dedicated to empowering women throughout these regions, leaving a worldwide impact on the state of poverty found within predominantly female areas.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Womens World Banking, Microfinance Gateway, Friends of Women`s World Banking
Photo: Flickr

women_entrepreneurs
Three Entrepreneurs from Ghana, Cameroon and Rwanda are applicants to the The Anzisha Prize. The prize aims to support young, African entrepreneurs who have created innovative change in their communities by addressing social issues or starting successful small businesses.

Twelve of the finalists win a free, week-long trip to South Africa to participate in entrepreneurship workshops and conferences at the African Leadership Academy campus near Johannesburg. The grand prize winners are then selected from the top twelve and receive $75,000 dollar prizes that will give their small businesses a jump-start as well as publicity.

In 2015, the organization must selected winners from a pool of around 500 applicants. The amount of applications this year is a record—but only 27 percent of them were women applicants.

Despite the low number of women applicants, there are many women entrepreneurs in Africa. However, they are often forced into innovative solutions out of need, rather than a desire to do so. How We Made it In Africa described in illustrative example, “This means that they might be self-employed by selling fruit on the side of the road, but the opportunity for them to grow beyond the informal stage may never present itself.”

African women usually lack access to education on financial and development skills; this is due to the fact that males are typically sent to school more often than females.

Still, the following women Anzisha Prize women have overcome the odds and made positive, impactful changes in their communities through their entrepreneurial innovation.

Mabel Suglo: Assembling Shoes to Employ the Disabled

Mabel Suglo is a 21 year old woman from Ghana, a co-founder of the Eco-Shoes Project. The initiative helps disabled artisans assemble desirable, marketable shoes out of used tires and recycled clothing.

The Project began in 2013; today five people work for Suglo.

“There are millions of discarded car tyre stockpiles and waste materials in Ghana which pose an environmental and health hazard. Eco-Shoes rescues some of the millions of tyres and other material waste creating an environmental nuisance, to make fashionable and comfortable shoes.” said Suglo, according to How We Made it in Africa.

If Suglo wins the Anzisha Prize, she plans to invest in more sophisticated machinery to increase shoe output. She also wants to create an e-commerce site and give her workers improved training in technology.

Vanessa Zommi: Tea to treat Diabetes in Cameroon

In 2013, when Vanessa Zommi was only seventeen, she founded Emerald Moringa Tea in Molyko, Cameroon. The company treats the moringa plant, transforming the raw substance into a healthy tea that treats diabetes.

“The World Health Organisation’s research estimates 190 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. This research further estimates that by the year 2025, there will be about 330 million patients in the world. Studies show that drinking moringa tea after a meal can ease digestion, and after two hours of intake, sugar levels in the body drop.” said Zommi, according to How we Made it in Africa.

Zommi plans to expand her company in the future; she currently employs six people and sales are limited to Molyko, Cameroon. She hopes the prize money will assist her in this expansion.

Chantal Butare: Milk Cooperative to help Farmers Sell

Chantal Butare, a twenty-one year old graduate of the University of Rwanda founded a dairy cooperative that aids farmers who produce milk in accessing markets.

Butare started the Kinazi Dairy Cooperative in 2012; she noticed farmers, especially women farmers, often struggled to sell all of the milk they produced.

The Cooperative, to date, has helped over 3,200 farmers. It employs twelve milk collectors who supply Rwanda and Burundi.

“My vision is to help eradicate poverty and hunger among vulnerable people in my community,” said Butare, according to How we Made it in Africa.

Margaret Anderson

Sources: Anzisha Prize, How We Made It in Africa
Photo: Clinton Foundation

ugandan women
“I want to be a designer … I want to be a lifeguard … a pilot … a journalist … a president! … I just want to dance.” These were just a few of the phrases on the signs that were held up in a recent lip dub video, featuring 500 Ugandan women, all of whom have started small businesses in their local communities. Working with SYPO Uganda Ltd, a Dutch non-governmental organization that provides micro-loans, the women choreographed a lip dubbed dance to Jessie J.’s famous song, “Price Tag,” in order to show the world that they want the same things as everyone else, and not just survival.

Over the past couple decades, Uganda has reduced poverty from 56 percent in 1992 to 24.5 percent in 2009. However, the majority of those who fall below the poverty line live in the countryside where access to education, services and better jobs are much more limited.

That’s where SYPO Uganda Ltd., stepped in. The organization began working with Ugandan partners in 2009 to support entrepreneurial projects of rural women in Uganda. Providing microfinance loans through local partners in transparent and effective ways led to great levels of success among recipients. To date, the organization has provided over 1,500 loans and maintained a 99 percent repayment rate.

The loans can be used in any way that the women want and are repaid with interest, ensuring that there is no third party influencing how the money is used or leaving any unwanted feeling that it is just another Western handout. The loan allows Ugandan women to be able to create and sustain a livelihood for themselves and their families.

In the final moments of the lip dub video, a message flashes up, reminding those watching that these women are proud to be able to work for themselves and build a life for their family and community. Empowerment is the best form of international aid. “We Africans want the same things that you want – survival is not enough. But we’re not asking for handouts. Instead we are asking for loans to start our own businesses. Help us grow. Go to Microbanker.com to support our business ideas!” the women said.

– Andrea Blinkhorn

Sources: Youtube, Huffington Post, SPYNO, Microbanker, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Microbanker

Hot Bread Kitchen
Foreign-born and low-income workers have the opportunity to become financially independent through a culinary career at Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK) in New York City’s Spanish Harlem.

Due to a lack of English fluency or professional networks, immigrants are often forced to the periphery of society. HBK works to build a world where immigrants are accepted into mainstream culture and honored for their work. In the kitchen, the foreign-born workers are not only improving their English language skills, but learning about commercial baking and management.

Since its launch, HBK has trained 22 women from 11 different countries, and it has incubated 15 small businesses.

The bakery offers Project Launch, a paid on-the-job training program, and HBK Incubates, a small business incubation program. Most of the workers grew up learning how to bake traditional breads from family recipes, and the training programs are funded by the sale of multi-ethnic breads made by the bakers using local and organic ingredients.

Project Launch is an intensive workforce training program in artisanal baking and English fluency for foreign-born and low-income minority women. Participants in the program receive up to 35 hours per week of on-the-job bakery training, 16 hours of customer service training and three hours of English fluency classes.

After an average of nine months, the women are placed in management track positions in the culinary industry or advanced to the HBK Incubates, which helps them launch their own businesses. For those transitioning into professional positions, household wealth is improved, with salaries increasing an average of 106%.

Nancy Mendez started making tortillas by hand when she was 10 years old, but she could not afford professional cooking school in Mexico because of the cost. She now makes Mexican corn tortillas for HBK based on her grandmother’s recipe. Mendez, who moved to the U.S. almost 14 years ago, now runs the entire tortilla production process at HBK. The tortillas are sold at weekly farmer’s markets in New York and at small shops. The breads sold at HBK vary, from foccacia to rye and challah to lavash crackers; the bakery also sells granola. The tortillas are one of the bakery’s most popular items.

HBK is not the only non-profit kitchen that doubles as a training center — La Cocina in San Francisco and Hope & Main in Rhode Island are also kitchen training centers in addition to commercial enterprises. However, HBK is unique in that is pays its bakers for class time.
HBK products are sold at retailers all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and online.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Hot Bread Kitchen, National Public Radio, Changemakers
Photo: Arbor Brothers

plastic_bags_in_jamaica
Each year in Jamaica, an individual uses over 300 plastic bags made of black polyurethane.

Since people of the island tend to burn their waste, the fumes from the plastic releases toxic hydrogen cyanide into the environment which will eventually re-enter the food chain.

Several health and environment risks arise from the production of plastic bags since it leads to large amounts of another harmful gas, carbon dioxide.

When bags are left alone in the environment, they block waterways and give rise to various diseases. Plastic bags can be the breeding ground for insects which increases the risk of disease such as Dengue fever. Plastic decays over hundreds of years and until then they remain environmental hazards for marine life.

Approximately 100,000 marine creatures perish every year from plastic entanglement. The European Commission continues to campaign against the use of plastic and other countries such as Ireland are resorting to taxation to curtail the use of plastic bags.

Thanks to the ingenuity of a group of women in Jamaica, some of the island’s plastic bags are now being recycled and turned into various items. Women are now making bags using the discarded plastic bags as they crochet them into intricate patterns.

They then sell these bags for $15 to $25 each to visiting tourists. These Jamaican women work in a remote area of the island and are able to make a livelihood while creating a useful product that is beneficial to everyone.

Thousands of bags that end up littering the streets supply these women with the possibility of paying their bills.

Several Jamaican people are now more aware about wasting plastic bags and collect them for friends who use it for crocheting. These entrepreneurial women have found a solution to the plastic bag infestation for their community, which only gives the rest of us a hopeful expectation for the global plastic predicament.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: NPR, DW.DE Pollution, DW.DE, Ocean Crusaders
Photo: Deutsche Welle